|Publication number||US7809794 B2|
|Application number||US 10/455,167|
|Publication date||Oct 5, 2010|
|Filing date||Jun 5, 2003|
|Priority date||Jun 5, 2003|
|Also published as||US20040249890|
|Publication number||10455167, 455167, US 7809794 B2, US 7809794B2, US-B2-7809794, US7809794 B2, US7809794B2|
|Inventors||Craig Fellenstein, Carl Phillip Gusler, Allen Hamilton II Rick, James Wesley Seaman|
|Original Assignee||International Business Machines Corporation|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (14), Referenced by (7), Classifications (10), Legal Events (5)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The present invention relates to a method and system for receiving electronic messages and in particular to a method and system for notification to a recipient of the electronic message reply requirements and for monitoring the compliance of recipients to these reply requirements.
Electronic mail (email) communications are an integral part of any business, and widely used outside of business as well. Although several new technologies currently compete, as the most ubiquitous tool in business communications, email remains one of the single most used communications tools for both the business and the personal user. Widespread availability, ease of use, and functionality are key components which hold email in front of developing communications methods; however, as new technologies compete for the top spot, email applications must continue to build upon the strong foundation currently in place to maintain their edge as the tool of choice. By any current standard, email applications would have to be rated as mature technology; however, if improvements in email applications cease to move forward, and other tools continue to improve, loss of market share will undoubtedly result.
One key feature missing in legacy email tools is a proactive system to ensure timely responses to messages. The average email user receives many (tens/hundreds) of email messages every day/week. It is currently a very cumbersome task to track messages, which a user has either sent or received, in which a reply message is both requested and expected. A user's in-box may at any given point contain many active “active” documents, and the process of identifying messages which the user must reply to, or messages the user is awaiting a reply upon, is manual and very inefficient.
As an example, in the current method, a user first creates an email message. The user can then mark the email message “reply requested” and select a reply requested by date option. At this point, the current email application functionality ends. In legacy email systems selecting these “advanced functions” through the email menus, in Lotus Notes for example, does nothing more than add the following unremarkable lines to the header of the note.
“Received: Sep. 12, 2002 04:34 PM
Please respond by Sep. 13, 2002”
In reviewing email applications, it is difficult to determine whether setting “reply request” actually did anything, and in most cases very close scrutiny of the note was necessary to even determine the feature had enabled in the note received. This feature in legacy email systems does very little to ensure that firstly, the user even notices a reply has been requested, and that the secondly, a prompt reply will be received.
Ease of use and best breed functionality are imperative in modern email systems. Many user interface enhancements have been added to email systems over the past several years; however, room for improvement continues to exist. One current shortfall in legacy email systems is the lack of a proactive system whereby users are reminded of due, or overdue, replies to previously-received email messages.
With legacy email functionality, it is only with great difficulty that the user can open his or in-box and determine which messages require action, and what the respective priority of each of the messages requiring action should be. During busy periods, this information is imperative, as the user may otherwise be determined to be unresponsive, when in fact the user may simply be responding to messages of lower priority. In order to correct this problem, a system is needed in which the user will be assisted through reminder messages, and the message sender is also reminded of due/overdue responses.
Therefore, there remains a need for a method and system that can notify an electronic mail message recipient of the requirement to reply to the received message and the requirements surrounding such a message reply. The present invention addresses these shortcomings and will now be described in additional detail through a practical example of usage.
It is an objective of the present invention to provide a method to notify the recipient of an electronic message of the need to reply to the received message.
It is a second objective of the present invention to provide a method that will remind the recipient of an electronic message of the need to reply to a received message.
It is a third objective of the present invention to provide a method and system to prioritize the electronic message reply requirements and to notify the message recipient of these response requirements.
It is a fourth objective of the present invention to provide a method to monitor the response status of an electronic message that requires a response from the recipient.
The present invention discloses a new function within electronic mail applications whereby documents or messages, which are annotated or designated with a notification such as “reply requested”, are monitored by a new proactive reminder system, in order to minimize the occurrence of the late responses.
In accordance with the method of the present invention, a reminder technique is incorporated into the electronic mail application process. In this process, there is a detection of a newly created electronic mail (‘email’) message. Following the detection of this message, there is determination of whether there are any recipient response requirements for this message. The sender of the email message will provide any reply requirements. When a reply is required or desired by the sender, the reply requirements are captured by the application. The application will also transmit these reply requirements to the recipient of the email message. Once the recipient receives the email message, the application of the present invention will begin to monitor the response of the recipient to the received message. The monitoring of the response will be in accordance with the reply requirements captured earlier by the application. At a designated time, if the recipient has not replied to the message, the application will send a reminder message to the recipient to get them to respond to the message. Once the recipient has responded to the received message, the application of the present invention will terminate.
Electronic mail message transmissions occur over computing devices, usually personal computers, connected to a communication network. With reference now to
The method of the present invention may be implemented in a global computer network environment such as the Internet. With reference now
Still referring to
The method of the present invention involves interaction with the sender of an electronic message as previously indicated in the reply reminder creation component 58.
In step 75, the sender selects whether to be notified each time a reminder message is sent to a recipient. A sender may choose to be notified, at a predetermined reminder interval, that the response has not yet been received for a previously transmitted message. However, in the case where the recipients of a message is very large, the sender may wish for reminders to be sent to the recipients, but not copied to the sender. There can also be an embodiment of the present invention, such that the method of this invention can detect when remote messages have not been received and therefore there is not reply response. In addition, the present invention has the ability to distinguish between an automatic reply such as “out of the office” and a substantive response from the recipient.
At the end of the process of
After the message has been sent and the reminder flag is set, there are periodic status checks to determine if there has been a response to the message 79. The determination of whether there has been a response occurs in step 80. It is possible and preferred that during this same time and prior to the reply due date specified by the sender, the recipient can generate a reply message. If there is a reply by a recipient, the process will terminate at box 81. If however, there is no reply and the first reminder date and time arrives, the method proceeds to step 82, where there is determination of whether there has been the expiration of a total reply time to respond to the message. In this case when the total reply time has expired, the process terminates in box 61. As previously mentioned, the sender can have an option to receive a record for each reminder where recipient did not respond to the message. If the total time to respond has not expired, the process moves to step 83 where the next reminder message is sent to the recipient. In order to keep track of the number of reminder messages sent to a particular recipient a counter can be used to count each reminder message transmission. This message transmission count occurs in step 84. As part of this counting process, the counter is initially set to zero. Each time a reminder message is sent, the counter is incremented by one. After the counter is incremented in step 84, the process returns to the period status check in step 79. In an alternate embodiment, the periodic check can occur at points when it is not time to send a reminder. In these cases, there is a determination of whether it is time to transmit a reminder message. If it is not time to transmit a reminder message, the process returns to the periodic status check in step 59.
If the message is sent to multiple recipients, the tracking process of the present invention can be implemented for each recipient. This process would continue until a reply is received, or the due date/time has expired at which point, the reminder bit would likely be unset. Additionally, the reminder message could optionally be modified based on nearness to due date/time, for example:
First reminder: “Please take the time to respond to this important note”
Last reminder: “This is your final reminder, if no response is received by close of business, escalation to your manager will occur”. These are, of course, just sample messages that could be included in an implementation of the invention.
Referring to step 83 where there is an initiation of the process of sending a reminder message to the recipient, one implementation of step 83 is to execute a scan function to detect whether the reminder flag set for the current date/time on a specific message/note. A reminder message is issued to message recipient, or recipient and sender if the sender wishes to be reminded as well. The reminder message could be a standard message such as:
The electronic message reminder system of the present invention can be added to a legacy email application. This addition would likely entail adding a new email tag to mark a document for the tracking system. In addition, a new email database field(s) would likely be required to maintain the date/time index for each such tagged email, and a scanning function would be required to determine when a given note reminder should be activated. Multiple implementation possibilities exist, but in one embodiment, the marking function would be implemented using legacy methods such as those used to mark messages urgent, private, etcetera. The scanning function could be implemented using a tool such as the CRON utility in UNIX systems whereby at a given interval, the marked messages, or a state table representing the marked messages is checked and action taken based on current state data. Finally, disabling the reminder function would remove the mark and the state of a reply to that message would no longer be tracked.
All other legacy email functions remain in effect. This invention is an important addition to email functionality providing for a robust closed loop system where it is important to receive responses to specific email notes. It is important to note that while the present invention has been described in the context of a fully functioning data processing system, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the processes of the present invention are capable of being distributed in the form of instructions in a non-transitory computer readable storage medium and a variety of other forms, regardless of the particular type of medium used to carry out the distribution. Examples of non-transitory computer readable storage media include media such as EPROM, ROM, tape, paper, floppy disc, hard disk drive, RAM, and CD-ROMs.
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|U.S. Classification||709/206, 709/205, 709/217|
|International Classification||H04L12/58, G06F15/16|
|Cooperative Classification||H04L12/587, H04L51/24, H04L12/5885|
|European Classification||H04L12/58N, H04L51/24|
|Jun 5, 2003||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORPORATION, NEW Y
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:FELLENSTEIN, CRAIG;GUSLER, CARL PHILLIP;HAMILTON II, RICK A.;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:014149/0638
Effective date: 20030519
|May 16, 2014||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Sep 22, 2014||SULP||Surcharge for late payment|
|Sep 22, 2014||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Mar 13, 2015||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: LINKEDIN CORPORATION, CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:035201/0479
Effective date: 20140331